The right to self-determination is a core value of our agency. We believe that all survivors, including those who are pregnant, have the right to autonomy and bodily integrity. This value is paramount to addressing the historical objectification of women in society which is a root cause of violence against women.
A November 2021 study, the first of its kind in the U.S., found that pregnant women die by homicide more frequently than from pregnancy-related health conditions. In fact, homicide is the number one cause of death for pregnant women in this country. The number increases for pregnant Black women and pregnant young women. Sadly, most of these women are killed by their partners. In other words, pregnancy increases a person’s chance of being killed by a partner.
We must resist the temptation to assume that all pregnancies result from consensual sexual interactions. Women of Color experience higher rates of sexual assault than their white counterparts and will face even more severe consequences due to Roe V. Wade being overturned. Mandating survivors to carry to term and assume the risks associated with giving birth to an unwanted child resulting from these crimes is cruel and traumatic (even if giving the child up for adoption is an option). At that point, it feels like what’s being mandated is the extended or continual re-traumatization of women.
Survivors of domestic violence don’t always have the chance to control whether or if they become pregnant. Reproductive abuse is when someone tries to control their partner’s reproductive choices. This can look like someone forcing their partner to have sex without contraception, destroying their partner’s birth control pills, or secretly altering contraception methods. Without the freedom to choose when or if they have sex, how or if they will prevent pregnancy, or to access safe and legal abortion, should they choose, survivors have even less autonomy to keep themselves safe. Therefore, people in abusive relationships are more likely to need abortion care.
If a pregnant person in an abusive relationship does survive pregnancy, there can be devastating consequences for the babies. Women who experience violence during pregnancy are more likely to have pre-term births and babies born with low birth weight, and there is a higher risk of fetal and neo-natal death.
Without Roe superseding state laws, states can regulate abortions however they choose, or even ban them altogether. We are so grateful for Attorney General Dana Nessel’s stance on the issue, stating that her office will not prosecute licensed medical professionals who offer abortion services.
We will not sit idly by as women’s rights are being taken away. Today we grieve, tomorrow we assemble.
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